Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Overcast, cold, 40 degrees. Sunrise 7:48, sunset 5:58.

Today's morning routine: Listening to Stewart Brand on KUOW, the author of The Whole Earth Catalog, the bible of the environmental change that occurred in the 60's and 70's.

I was pretty young when the book first came out but a later edition was one of the first books I bought with my textbook money when I went to college (in Eugene, home of hippies and recycling on street corners). His new book is The Whole Earth Discipline which suggests we rethink our ideas of what we should be doing now to save our environment.

I just read that he was one of the Merry Pranksters.

Washed the dishes, had breakfast, started Last Night in Twisted River (I'm not sure if this'll beat out finishing The Midnight Charter), swept the kitchen floor and did a load of laundry. Showered and washed my hair (I hate washing my hair-it takes forever to dry).

That Dark Divine book I was reading yesterday was really good! It is about a girl named Grace, a pastor's daughter, and a boy she used to know (and had a huge crush on) who has come back home. He has changed in some pretty dark ways, but she still finds him more than attractive and realizes that he is probably dangerous.

Daniel (the boy) and Jude, Grace's brother, and she were almost family when Daniel moved in with them after his father beat him badly. While living at the pastor's home something horrible happened and Daniel disappeared.

Three years later, he's back to atone and take care of the obligations he has accrued in his life. Unfortunately, Jude and some others in town are opposed to his return and are furious that Grace is becoming more and more involved with him.

Things reach a flashpoint when animals start to go missing, dead people have their flesh torn, and rumors are flying that Daniel is the reason why.

I love Grace and Daniel as a couple, you know he has been pining, longing for her, all this time and I appreciate that we can see how strong Grace is in her feelings for him. Their relationship doesn't depend on him and his being or not being with her, she holds her own in this one. I like that the author really shows us who Grace is from the beginning without resorting to having the other characters tell us about her.

It's really good and I will tell you that I couldn't put it down. I left the book I was reading in a bag in the car the other night, The Midnight Charter, by David Whitley. It is really good and different (although, I don't like the finished cover as much as the reading copy cover).

Unfortunately, I just couldn't go back out to the car to get it. Fortunately, I happened to have The Dark Divine on the kitchen table and I am very happy it was there.

The Dark Divide has a reading level of 12 and up, but I think ages 14 and up is a better one. There's no sex, very little cursing, it's 14 and up in my mind only because I think 14 year-olds are readier for books like this than younger readers. Let me know what you think when you read it.

Published by Egmont, available January, 2010. $17.99.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesdays are fast becoming one of my favorite days of the week: I go to work late because I stay late. That gives me a morning to write and make soup, do an extra load of laundry, and listen to the garden show on KUOW.

I love getting up just a little later than usual and finding a new book to sample during breakfast, having a little more time to enjoy the book if it's good, a little more time to find something different if it isn't.

Today I've discovered The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain. My friend, Deanna, with Random House, handed out copies at Seattle Bookfest on Sunday and it definitely looked like something I would read. I didn't want to stop reading so it is obviously the new book du jour.

Today is another beautiful October day, blue and gold, cold and filled with color. Sunrise was at 7:46. Sunset is at 5:59! It's officially night before 6! Yesterday the rain just poured during the morning commute, one of the most un-fun things to be a part of. It is a most stressful beginning to the day.

Our landscapers are here a little earlier than usual. We are so excited to have a yard we will actually be able to use! Our landscaper said that, to start, they'd roll up the sod and then put down the mulch and things that we wanted. And then she looked at the ground and said, "Although, this isn't sod. I don't know what it is, but it isn't sod." This project is a really good thing, not just for us, but for our neighbors.

The yard was filled with little weedy hillocks left over from going out and weed-whacking. The weed-whacker twirls the high, high "grass" into twisty ties of weeds. Short weeds, now, but weeds. Ah. The project should be done this week (barring any more downpours).

I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and it was so great! Thank you, John Green and David Levithan, for writing another really good book about friendship. About friendship between boys and girls, and friendship between boys and boys. WG, WG is about a boy named Will Grayson and his best friend, Tiny Cooper, who is a really big gay boy who makes the world more fabulous. It is also about another Will Grayson who has only recently admitted to himself that he is gay.

Late one cold and windy night in Chicago, the two Will Graysons meet and, like balls meeting in the middle of a pool table, their lives spin and twist in directions they don't expect. I absolutely adore the characters in this book. I would like to see them again.

This is a wonderful book about looking for, finding, and losing love and friendship. It also reminds us that we should let people know we love them. Often.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
will be published by Dutton and is for teens, 14 and up. $17.99, available April, '10.

I am going up now to read the rest of The Dark Divine.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What a glorious October day; flame colored trees along I-90; blue skies, golden air under the trees and bushes along the sidewalks. Cool breezes, warm air, football. Aaand, may I say, Go Ducks!

Sunrise: 7:43. Sunset: 6:03. Slept late, had a nap, made dinner, started a couple of new books. A good weekend day.

I really enjoyed The Amanda Project and I think teen-aged girls are going to, too. Lots of intrigue and mystery, lots of feeling out of step with the popular girls, lots of realizing that there are other people with good ideas who would be more fun to know. It was very hard to not finish it all at once and having to sleep was the only reason I did. It was fun and I can't wait for the next one.

Now I have to try and decide whether to read a grown-up book or a YA novel next. The choices, for tonight, anyway, are Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan, or Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin.

John Green is one of my favorite authors so I am tending toward Will Grayson, but Alice (of Alice in Wonderland fame) is one of my favorite characters,'s a hard choice, but I think I'm going to go with Will Grayson for now.

I am working at the new Seattle Bookfest in Columbia City tomorrow. I think we've all missed having a book festival in town. I am glad someone is making the effort to do it and I hope it will happen again!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson will be published by Dutton in April, 2010, in hardcover for $17.99. Alice I Have Been will be published in January, 2010, by Delacorte and will be hardcover for $25.00.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23: Amanda Project: invisible i

Sunrise at 7:40, sunset at 6:06, not that we can tell. Even with the curtains open, I had to turn the lights on in the dining room so I could read while I had breakfast (at 8:30! I love weekends).

The tree across the street that I can see from the dining room window is filled with birds. I think they may be starlings; I got to the binoculars too late to focus and then they were gone, flying away from here. The birds in the neighborhood usually gather in that tree and then fly into the maple in our yard. Oh, they're back! Crows, not starlings.

I took my stack of books up steps last night and started The Amanda Project: invisible i, by Stella Lennon. I couldn't stop reading once I got started. I was only going to read for a bit but it was too hard to stop.

It's an interesting book: Amanda, the new girl, chose Callie to be her guide at the school and town. However, their friendship was hidden from the greater community, no one knew that Callie and Amanda were friends.

Amanda disappears; this isn't too weird, she was often away from school for days, but this time the vice principal calls Callie in to find out what she knows about it. When Callie comes into the office, two other classmates, Nia and Hal, are also there, being interrogated as to the disappearance. None of the three of them knew that the others also knew Amanda.

It comes out that Amanda chose each of them to be her personal guide, changing her personality and the facts of her life in Orion to suit them.

As the three of them begin to compare notes about what they knew about Amanda, they begin to realize everything they know is false.

This is a kind of a cool book, too, because you can go to and write stories, post art, leave notes, and there is a possibility that what gets posted is integrated into future Amanda Project books.

That's as far as I have gotten and I have to stop now so I can get ready to talk to my librarian friends at the Ravenna store! The children's book buyer and staff at the Ravenna Third Place store and I are book talking our favorite new YA books today and, because I read so much so far away from actual publication dates, I must spend some time today reviewing the ones I'm going to discuss. Exciting!

The Amanda Project: invisible i, by Stella Lennon, is published by HarperCollins. Hardcover, $16.99. Available now. Ages 12 and up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sunrise today is at 7:39, sunset will be at 6:08. I always feel like I've gotten more done in a day, I've accomplished more, and that I am hardier than I think, if I am up and around before it gets light; hard to do when sunrise happens when we're on the uptick to 8 am!

I finished The Poacher's Son last night and it was good all the way through. As I said in the previous post, it's primarily a book about family and responsibility; when does it end? Or does it ever?

Mike Bowditch is a game warden in Maine. His father, the poacher, is accused of murdering 2 cops and is the subject of an intense man-hunt. He eludes all the hunters and dogs because he knows how to maneuver through the woods and the mountains.

Mike knows his father couldn't have done it and he tries to insinuate himself into the case but, according to the other cops, is obviously biased toward his father and so is forced out of the chain of information.

Throughout the book, thankfully not every other chapter, we get glimpses into Mike's life as a child. He wants so desperately to have his father be proud of him, even remember him, and his dad is definitely not one of those kinds of men. I really didn't like that man and can see why so many people in the book wanted him to be the murderer!

The book is full of twists and turns and great writing. It was really exciting and absolutely riveting. I hope you like it as much as I did.

Now, I have to find the next book to read.

I have a house full of books to browse, and, tonight anyway, a car full of books in the driveway because I am speaking to middle and high school librarians tomorrow about my favorite YA books.

On the kitchen table in front of me I have The Amanda Project: invisible i, by Stella Lennon; Solace of the Road, by Siobhan Dowd; Day of the Pelican, by Katherine Paterson; Party, by Tom Leveen; Will Grayson Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan; and The Bread of Angels, by Stephanie Saldana. Which will it be??? I am taking them all up to bed with me tonight and the one I can't put down first will be the one I stay up with. It's my FRIDAY and I get to stay up and read!!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21, The Poacher's Son

Rain. Rain. Rain. It's not supposed to rain tomorrow. It is today, though, the kind of rain that feels like it won't end any time soon. Cold. Wet. Dark. It's fall, I should be used to this. Sunrise at 7:37, sunset at 6:10. My sister's birthday is today, happy birthday, Keeli!

Stopped raining for just a minute - the birds are out of hiding. Big bluejay in the tree across the way, on the very tip top branch, something round in its beak. The little popcorn birds are bouncing from twig to twig, hanging upside down, pushing each other out of the way. Oh! They're gone!

One of the perks of being a bookseller, besides having access to books before they are published, is being invited to dinner with fellow booksellers and new authors. Isn't that a really cool thing?

I have been invited to dinner with Paul Doirin, the author of a book called The Poacher's Son. I got a copy of his book yesterday (it was in a pile of boxes just filled with advanced reading copies from Macmillan Publishing) and I thought I had better read a bit of it before I RSVP.

Do I really want to read a book about a poacher? Hunting? Not something I would probably pick up on my own but when you may be face to face with the author, you want to be able to truthfully say something positive about the book, so I started it last night. It's GOOD! It's more the story of family and what family responsibilities are or should be than it is about hunting and death.

It's about a man, Mike Bowditch, a game warden, whose estranged father (the poacher in the title) calls one night and leaves a message that involves him in a murder investigation. I love his descriptions of Maine, I really like the way this guy writes, and, having grown up with hunters, beating the grass for rabbits and pheasant, I can appreciate the characters and the way they feel when the government gets involved in their way of living when it's been that way forever.

It's really a fine mystery book, so far (I'm on page 72 as of this post), and I am completely caught up in it. It is a book for grown-ups. Minotaur Books, $24.99. Available April, 2010.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009: Things That Keep Us Here

Overcast with a pinch of cold. The trees are brilliant. Even with the rain and wind over the last few days, the leaves are still attached to their branches. Our neighbors have the most exquisite red bushes on their hillside. I don't think I have ever seen a red that color in nature. I have pictures; I should figure out how to load them in to show you. It's foggy up on the hills and kind of quiet. Sunrise was at 7:36, Sunset is at 6:11.

We got our every-other-month "white box" from the American Booksellers Association yesterday. Everyone gathers around and watches as the tape is slit and the cardboard wings are opened, ready for that moment when these new, not-yet-published books are exposed.

Emily took the new Elizabeth Gilbert book, Robert picked out the book about Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I decided on a book, out of the big pile of things I want to read, called The Things That Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley.

I have been reading only young adult books for weeks, now, in preparation for a book talk I'm doing on Friday and I have been looking forward to reading anything else. The Things That Keep Us Here looked like a good one to start with. I like books that draw me in right away, and I really like science and science fiction/speculative fiction. I started it on my afternoon break and did NOT want to stop reading. I took it to the gym and read while I did my cardio workout and then read late into the very early morning to finish it.

It could have "ripped from the headlines" emblazoned on the cover. It's the story of a family falling apart at the same time the world as they know it is ending. A flu pandemic carried by birds has begun circling the world, following migratory flight routes. As the flu infiltrates the United States, it follows the Mississippi river with the birds. Panic sets in and people begin to ransack stores and steal gasoline from their neighbors. Ann and Peter, parents of two girls, have to figure out how to survive a winter of severe rationing and fear.

What was really interesting about this book was seeing how quickly our society could fall apart when we are faced with such a calamity. How many of us have fireplaces and know how to lay a fire? When the stores run out of bread, would we be able to subsist on something like hardtack? Would we know what hardtack even is? What happens when the people who run the electric substations and water systems die? How do you get to a hospital when you can't get gasoline? Would you share your food, your bottled water, your house?

It was scary, what with the H1N1 flu in such high profile right now, reading something that seems so realistic and able to happen. It was good, but I am going to avoid crowds for awhile.

(Good for grown-ups with some teen crossover interest. Fans of Douglas Preston will enjoy it. Delacorte. Hardcover, $25.00. Available February, 2010.)